Sunday, April 19, 2020

Dungeoncrawling: Hirelings

I'm working on Part 2 of Lair of the Lamb right now, and its turning into something different.  I think I want it to be an introduction to dungeoncrawling (and possibly the GLOG) with all of my scattered rulesets baked into it.

So, part of that means typing up those scattered rulesets.

Anyway, there are only two types of hirelings: henchmen and mercenaries.

Wallmaster from 3's Original Zelda Guide

Henchmen will work for half a share of the money, or for 1 silver per day (whichever is more).

Henchmen will not participate in combat, but they have 10 inventory slots at your disposal.  Their preferred position is wherever is safest.  They will refuse to do anything overtly risky, but can be coaxed to do moderately risky things with a Loyalty check.

Overtly risky tasks: being the first one down a hallway, pulling an unmarked lever.

Moderately risky tasks: standing watch in the hall while the party is in a room.


Mercenaries will work for a share of the money, or for 10s per day (whichever is more).

Each mercenary will do their best to stay close to the person they are attached to.  They give that person +2 Atk and +2 Damage in combat, but do not take combat turns by themselves.  If you would take damage that would give you lethal damage, there is a 50% chance that your mercenary is killed instead.

Mercenaries prefer to stand in the background whenever possible, but they will not shirk from combat.  They will take as many risks as the rest of the PCs.  If they notice that they are being asked to take more risks that the PCs (they are always forced to pull the lever), they will become as unwilling to take risks as henchmen.

Turning a mercenary into a +2/+2 buff is just done to speed things along.  If that simplification seems odious, or if it seems unreasonable within the fiction, feel free to detach them from the PC and treat them like a level 1 fighter.

All mercenaries that you'll hire at the local tavern are level 1 fighters by default, but you can encounter (and hire) other mercenaries as one of the many perks of adventuring.

A Level 2 Fighter gives you +3 Attack and +3 Damage, and can take two hits for you before dying.

A Level 1 Thief gives you +1 Attack and +1 Damage, but can be coaxed into picking locks and scouting rooms.

Loyalty Checks

Asking a hireling to take more risks than the rest of the party causes them to lose 1 Loyalty, regardless of whether or not they accept or refuse.

Good treatment causes their loyalty to go up by 1 or 2 points (to a maximum of 19).  Poor treatment causes their loyalty to go down by 1, 1d4, or 1d6 points.

Hireling Events

A possibility on the Random Encounter Table.

1. Two NPCs are fighting.  Describe the fight.  If you allow them both to fight, they both lose 1 Loyalty.  If the rest of the party supports one NPCs but not the other, the NPC that was supported gains 1 Loyalty and the other loses 1d4 Loyalty.

2. An NPC becomes demanding.  They want something from the party (more pay / more control over decisions such as where to go / a magic item).  If they do not get it, they lose 2 Loyalty.

3. Two NPCs have become best friends.  They now share a loyalty stat, and forcing them to separate may require a Loyalty check.

4. An NPC has decided that they want to be friends with one of the PCs.  They gain 1 Loyalty and will attempt to do something nice for you.  (A gift / information / a favor).

5. An NPC spends 10 minutes refusing to move.  It may be due to fear, a twisted ankle, a sudden nosebleed, or a bad feeling.

6. A random character (NPC or PC) must make a Wisdom check.  If they fail, they lose a random item (that makes sense).  It is in one of the previous 6 rooms.


  1. whoa, this is GOOD. A flat attack/damage bonus from mercenaries is genius; I hate running NPCs in combat but players do love enticing NPCs to join the party and using them as meat shields.

  2. It's pretty neat. I think I first saw this sort of abstraction on Hack & Slash (

    I especially like the idea of the NPC event table.

  3. there is a kindof middle ground in the 5e DMG (pg 250) where you have a table like:
    d20 to hit -> number of attackers
    1-5 -> 1
    6-12 -> 2
    13-18 -> 4
    19+ -> 10
    So... if you have 4 mercs and they need 8 on a d20 to hit, you auto hit 2 times (1 hit every 2 mercs)

  4. Making a henchman add to your own Attack roll is inspired. One of the only times I thought, "Wow, okay, I like these rules for hirelings."

  5. Everyone is focusing on treating mercs as a stat buff, but I've seen that before (Dungeon World treated the Ranger's animal like that), which isn't to say it's not good.

    I'm more interested in the hireling events, because I do love cramming more things into my overloaded encounter dice, and those are golden!